Genetic susceptibility and immune-mediated destruction in beryllium-induced disease

Trends Immunol. 2005 Oct;26(10):543-9. doi: 10.1016/


Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a hypersensitivity disorder caused by beryllium exposure in the workplace and is characterized by the accumulation of beryllium-specific CD4(+) T cells in the lung and granulomatous inflammation. This disorder occurs in 2-16% of exposed workers, depending on genetic susceptibility and the nature of the exposure. Susceptibility has been associated with HLA-DP alleles possessing a glutamic acid at the 69th position (Glu(69)) of the beta-chain. The mechanism for this association lies in the ability of these HLA-DP molecules to present beryllium to pathogenic CD4(+) T cells. These findings in CBD have important implications for studies in autoimmune diseases, including those in which the inciting antigen is unknown and the target organ is inaccessible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Berylliosis / etiology
  • Berylliosis / genetics*
  • Berylliosis / immunology*
  • Beryllium / adverse effects*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Immunization*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Beryllium